FSA News Item, 16 August 2006
The Agency has received an application to use refined echium oil as a novel food ingredient.
Echium oil is a vegetable oil rich in omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is obtained by Super Refining™ oil extracted from the seeds of Echium plantagineum. Croda Chemicals wants to use its refined echium oil as an ingredient in a range of food products (including milk and yoghurt based drinks, breakfast cereals and nutrition bars) and in food supplements.
Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market, it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).
Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in many foods such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil and spreads, vegetable oils and foods made from these ingredients.
Both types of polyunsaturated fatty acids can help to protect against coronary heart disease. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding because they help a baby's nervous system to develop.
Some omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain vegetable oils, such as linseed, flaxseed, walnut and rapeseed, but these aren't the same type of fatty acids as those found in fish. Evidence suggests that the type of fatty acids found in vegetable sources may not have the same benefits as those in fish.
Deadline for comments
Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by 6 September 2006 and will be passed to the Committee before it finalises its opinion.